Israeli musician David Broza will be performing at the Vancouver Chutzpah Festival Feb. 28 and his songs will certainly stir memories among the many Generation X Israelis in the city who grew up in his thrall. The Israeli superstar was originally scheduled to perform with Palestinian musician Ali Paris, but when Paris was not able to attend, Broza selected Palestinian singer-songwriter Mira Awad to take his place.
Awad is “an amazing singer and an incredible artist who brings an exotic, profound Arab poetry to the stage,” Broza told The CJN.
The two met six years ago when Broza saw Awad perform at the Kameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. Impressed, he started following her work, and when he was ready to record the album East Jerusalem West Jerusalem in 2013, he invited her to collaborate on a couple of duets. Awad, who has performed with Noa, Idan Raichel, Andrea Bocelli, Tim Ries and other internationally famous musicians, said she was “proud to join him on that brave project.
“David is an amazing person with a wide heart and a keen sense of justice, so the connection was natural,” she said. “The fact that David makes awesome music obviously helped. The political element is there, not as part of my decision to play with Broza, but as the air that we breathe and that wraps our lives and everything we do. It is the soundtrack of our existence in this conflicted area. I believe in the power of the arts in connecting people. Politicians can build walls, but we artists can tear them down by finding a way to connect nevertheless.”
Broza said while political messaging is not an important part of his music, he loves using his music to bridge the divide and create harmony. “Besides being primarily a musician and entertainer, I care a lot about the world I live in, starting with Tel Aviv,” he reflected. “I care about the underdog, the underprivileged and uneducated. Through my music, I find I have the opportunity to entertain and empower people who have less fortunate lives than I do, and over the last four years, I’ve really put a lot of energy into improving the life quality of east Jerusalemites. Through music and workshops, I try to inspire young Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish and Arab people, and it’s very rewarding. There’s instant gratification, because people connect to music instantly.”
There’s “magic” that happens when the two musicians are on stage together, Awad said. “I’m looking forward to arriving in Vancouver for this powerful collaboration. I cherish my friendship with David and I hope we can convince all the people present how stupid and foolish all these [political] disputes are and that the things we have in common are way deeper than the stuff that divides us.”
Music is her personal therapy, she admitted, a way she deals with her thoughts, pain and joy. “But I also feel that music has an advantage in that it aims straight to the subconscious levels where people have less defences and borders. This means we, as musicians, can penetrate where other change-makers cannot.”
“They’re wonderful musicians and performers, that’s the number 1 reason we invited them,” said Mary-Louise Albert, artistic managing director of the Chutzpah Festival. “This is the first time performing in the festival for both artists, and since they have similar esthetics and views, I think it’s important to pair these two very high calibre, talented artists.”
Broza said the Vancouver show will cover songs from his four-decade-long career, including hits like Haisha Sheiti, Yihye Tov, songs from his Spanish albums and some of his American albums. The two artists will sing in English, Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic.
At 61, Broza said, he’s constantly writing new music. “My goal is to continue writing music,” he said, in the midst of a performance calendar that sees him in Tel Aviv only 10 days of each month and the remaining days at performance halls around the world.
Likewise, Awad said she feels happy “as long as I’m making music, writing, composing, recording. This is also my tool to reach out to the world, this time with an even bigger message of unity and solidarity.” n
Broza and Awad will perform at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre on Feb. 28 at 8 pm. For tickets, visit chutzpahfestival.com